Your heart consists of four chambers. Two upper atrium and two lower ventricles. Blood returning to the heart after delivering oxygen to the body enters the right atrium. It is then pushed through the left ventricle and into the lungs to be oxygenated. The oxygenated blood enters the left atrium and flows through the left ventricle and into the body to be circulated. To keep the blood flowing in the right direction, your heart has four valves. The valves are located between the atrium and ventricles and at the bottom of the ventricles. As the blood is pushed through the heart chambers the valves close so that the blood does not flow backwards. Sometimes one or more of these valves malfunction and leak in a condition called regurgitation which can lead to certain symptoms.
Absence of Symptoms
The Merck company states that some degeneration of the heart valves is normal with age and can exist without creating complications. You can have a leaky heart valve and have no signs or symptoms at all. If you do have symptoms they will vary depending on which valve is leaking.
When your heart valve leaks your doctor may hear a murmur or leaking sound when listening to the heart. These sounds can be heard through a stethoscope or with a test called an echocardiography.
The Mayo Clinic states that in some cases you may become short of breath or have trouble catching your breath. Since your valves are not closing properly your body is not getting enough blood and oxygen, which can leave you out of breath. As this occurs you may notice that you also feel fatigued.
According to the American Heart Association, some patients with a leaky heart valve will experience chest pain, also known as angina. Angina occurs when the heart's cells are starved for oxygen. You may also be prone to coughing, especially when lying down.
Since the blood is not flowing smoothly your pulse may change and beat irregularly, leading to arrhythmias. One minute your pulse may be strong and then suddenly disappear as the blood flows backwards. This can also cause changes in your blood pressure.
According tot eh National Institutes of Health, if your heart valves do not function properly you may experience fluid retention or edema. This can occur anywhere in the body, but it is common in the ankles. This can also lead to frequent urination.